April 23, 2009
1. Andre Ware, No. 7 overall, 1990.
The Heisman trophy winner was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but only got four years to soak in the expert tutelage of head coach Wayne Fontes. He could never beat out Erik Kramer or Rodney Peete for a permanent starting job, and ended up with the Raiders, where he was also promptly cut. Ware then made the move to the Canadian League, where he was also quite terrible.
But he's doing just fine these days, working as a college football analyst for ESPN, and as part of the Houston Texans broadcast team.
2. Ryan Leaf, No. 2 overall, 1998.
After doing everything he could to hurt the Chargers short of burning down Qualcomm Stadium and stabbing Junior Seau in the neck, Leaf bounced around to a couple of other NFL teams, most notably the Cowboys, but never found any success.
After leaving the NFL, Leaf spent a while coaching at West Texas A&M (he worked as the quarterbacks coach, and as the head coach on the golf team), but resigned after he asked a player for a pain pill.
But the good news for Leaf is that he managed his draft money well, he married a Chargers cheerleader, and you'll be happy to know that he's still making time for fun.
3. Lawrence Phillips, No. 6 overall, 1996.
After stellar rookie and sophomore years in which he averaged 3.3 and 3.4 yards per carry, respectively (had Phillips been able to stick with football and progress at the same rate, he'd be getting ready to average 4.6 yards per carry this season!) Phillips bounced around to a couple of other NFL teams, NFL Europe, Arena Football and the Canadian League. His career ended when two CFL teams cut him because he was kind of a jerk.
What's he doing these days? A 10-year stretch in California state prison. I'll let Wikipedia sum up his post-football criminal career:
On August 21, 2005, Phillips was arrested for assault after allegedly driving a car into three teenagers, following a dispute with the teens during a pick-up football game in Los Angeles, California. At the time of the arrest, Phillips was wanted by the San Diego, California, police in connection with two alleged domestic abuse incidents involving a former girlfriend, who claimed that Phillips choked her to the point of unconsciousness during one of the incidents. In addition, the Los Angeles Police Department was seeking Phillips in connection with yet another, separate domestic abuse allegation that had occurred previously in Los Angeles.
In March, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Phillips had been ordered to stand trial on felony assault with a deadly weapon charges stemming from the August 21, 2005, incident. The assigned judge dismissed two counts of child abuse and one count of leaving the scene of an accident, but continued the trial on the more serious charges.
On October 10, 2006, Phillips was found guilty of seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon. On October 3, 2008, Phillips was sentenced to 10 years in a California state prison.
4. Blair Thomas, No. 2 overall, 1990.
It feels a little unfair to call Thomas a bust, because his career was largely derailed by injuries, but he didn't last long in the league, and only gave the Jets four years and 2,009 total rushing yards.
That wasn't his only contribution to football, though. Thomas was the running backs coach at Temple University, where he helped develop two NFL running backs, which is two more than Temple has any right producing. Jason McKie and Stacey Mack both benefited from Thomas's coaching.
Today, Thomas and former Eagles receiver Kenny Jackson own a small chain of sports bars named "Kokomo's." They have "deep fried stuff galore".
5. Ki-Jana Carter, No. 1 overall, 1995.
Ki-Jana beat out even Ryan Leaf as Charles Robinson's worst all-time first-round draft pick back in 2007. That's the top of the mountain for draft bustage, really.
Carter tore up his knee in his first preseason game as a rookie and was never the same. He managed to stick around the league for seven more years, despite mostly anemic numbers. He peaked with the Redskins in 2001, when he carried 63 times for 308 yards and a 4.9 yards per carry average. After that, though, he failed to gain 100 more yards in his career.
I was hoping to find out that Ki-Jana and Blair Thomas opened up a roller disco together in State College, but that's not the case. Carter lives in Miami, does a little local broadcasting and hosts a Monday Night Football event at a Casino.
6. Tim Couch, No. 1 overall, 1999.
As a number one overall draft pick that went to a team in Cleveland, you might call Tim Couch "the anti-LeBron." Couch did manage to start for five years in Cleveland, though he only won 22 games in those five years, and his quarterback rating never broke out of the 70s. It wasn't like he didn't bring anyone any joy, though. Former Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope loved to make fun of him.
Couch tried to latch on with several other teams after finally being let go by the Browns, but he never saw another down of NFL action. He's currently working as a Kentucky Wildcats football analyst for the Big Blue Sports Network, but his best move was marrying former Playboy Playmate Heather Kozar, so he's got that going for him. Which is nice.
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